The symbolic mode of reasoning in algebra, as it emerged during the sixteenth century, can be considered as a form of model-based reasoning. In this paper we will discuss the functions and mechanisms of this model and show how the model relates to its arithmetical basis. We will argue that the symbolic model was made possible by the epistemic justification of the basic operations of algebra as practiced within the abbaco tradition. We will also show that this form of model-based reasoning facilitated the expansion of the number concept from Renaissance interpretations of number to the full notion of algebraic numbers.

%B Model-Based Reasoning in Science and Technology %I Springer %V 314 %P 519–532 %@ 9783642152221 %G eng %U http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-15223-8\_29